The New Era of Pharmaceuticals: Where Technology Meets Clean Label

StartupBeat Team
By StartupBeat Team July 26, 2022

Health has taken on a whole new definition since 2020. This has partly to do with the pandemic and the new values about well-being that it has triggered in many people. But it also has much to do with the rapid progress in health technology. 

It was recently projected that nearly 50% of global healthcare companies will implement artificial intelligence strategies by 2025. Some experts even believe that AI will be a critical factor in how businesses will operate. This showcases a trend where many companies are investing in smart technology capacities to help them meet new demands in the health space. 

With drug discovery becoming an increasingly competitive market, many companies are looking into ways to glean an edge, and technology is helping to catalyze these efforts. Simultaneously, many consumers expect more from their healthcare – and the majority are looking for more clean label solutions to their products for wellbeing. This is evidenced by the Botanical and Plant Derived Drugs Market expected to exceed more than US$3 Billion by 2024 at a CAGR of 6.1% in the given forecast period.

Recently, the Malaysian pharmaceutical corporation Duopharma Biotech Berhad and US-based foodtech company The Live Green Co have signed a collaborative agreement to enhance clean label alternatives in the healthcare segment in South East Asia. This agreement between a major pharmaceutical company and an innovative food startup shows that the world is moving towards a new understanding of health – blending traditional pharmaceutics with disruptive thinking and technology.

Let’s look at the collaborative agreement and see how the two companies will work together to spearhead a movement that creates synergy between technology and holistic alternatives in healthcare.

Natural Solutions in Healthcare at Scale 

Duopharma Biotech Group began with the establishment of Duopharma (M) Sendirian Berhad in 1978 and was incorporated in 2000. Today it is one of Malaysia’s leading pharmaceutical companies listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia Berhad, with three large-scale manufacturing units. 

The Malaysian pharmaceutical entity has core competencies in the industry, including Manufacturing, Research & Development, and Commercialisation & Marketing of over 300 generic drugs. In their collaboration with foodtech company The Live Green Co., the corporation looks to explore the use of plant ingredients and technology to replace animal, synthetic and ultra-processed ingredients—ultimately helping them to meet consumer demand for more sustainable wellness foods and pharmaceuticals that are naturally better absorbed and easily assimilated than synthetic ones. 

The foodtech company will help support the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of plant-based and functional products for Duopharma Biotech’s Consumer Healthcare range through their proprietary AI-tech platform, Charaka™, which blends nature with science to optimize plant-based foods and products. 

By supporting Duopharma in their specialty product development through R&D collaboration, the companies will create a new range of plant-based healthcare products catering to the unmet need of patients with special dietary requirements. Furthermore, the optimization in manufacturing that will come from more sustainable and efficient practices will help Duopharma Biotech meet its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiative.

“Consumers are now more conscious and educated about sustainable consumption,” said Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar, Group Managing Director, Duopharma Biotech Berhad. “There is a growing movement towards making healthier food and supplement decisions, and we aim to be among the companies meeting this demand in Malaysia as well as in our wider global market.”

A Greener Future for the Health Space

Shatar explained that the decision to replace existing ingredients with plant alternatives is an important step in achieving Duopharma Biotech’s Climate Performance goal of reducing greenhouse gasses throughout its supply chain.

“In line with our vision of “Providing Smarter Solutions for a Healthier Life” and our mission of being the “Leading Healthcare Group Providing Quality and Innovative Solutions”, we are always on the lookout for new innovations that promote better health and like-minded companies that we can collaborate with to enhance our portfolio of wellness-focused products,” continued Shatar.

The company announced its ESG commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and replace 50% of single-use plastics with biodegradable plastics within its operations by 2026. This mission comes with an emphasis on new technology and digitalization to reduce emissions more efficiently. 

“Through this collaboration with The Live Green Co., Duopharma Biotech is able to expand the number of plant-based foods and pharmaceuticals that we can offer to consumers, and expand our market potential, while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint from non-sustainable ingredients and under-optimized manufacturing processes,” he continued. 

The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that AI and machine learning in the pharmaceutical industry could generate nearly $100B annually across the US healthcare system, showing that it is a method within the space to reduce research and development costs, avoid detrimental errors, as well as help companies become more efficient and sustainable. 

Other leading consumer brands that will soon carry plant-based tags include Flavettes, Champs, Proviton, Uphamol, and Naturalle, among others. Duopharma Biotech’s collaboration with The Live Green Co will see at least two reformulated products offered to consumers by 2024, helping to drive the world’s transition to a greener future of health. 

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.